In a rather disappointing 2018 season, one of the few bright spots for the Florida State Seminoles was Brian Burns. The 6-foot-5 defensive end was rewarded for his great play, too, when the Carolina Panthers took him No. 16 overall pick at the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee.
With the lack of pass-rushing options on the Panthers roster, Burns is not only a nice fit for their scheme, but also a player who can help immediately.
Carolina had 35 sacks as a team in 2018. Only five teams finished with less throughout the season. And with Julius Peppers retiring, there is a hole on the outside that Burns could definitely fill once he’s ready. To start, he probably won’t be an every-down player, but he could contribute on passing downs to get after the quarterback.
With reports that Carolina is thinking about a scheme change, it could benefit first-round pick Brian Burns. Historically, the Panthers have used a 4-3 defense that uses four defensive lineman and three linebackers. But with their inability to consistently rush the passer, especially last season, head coach Ron Rivera may use a 3-4 defense that uses three bigger defensive lineman and four linebackers.
That change would fit the type of player Burns is right now. As a thin pass-rusher, he could be plugged right in to an outside linebacker role as a pass rusher where in a 4-3, he may be a little thin to play consistently at defensive end. But no matter what defense they decide to go with, Burns has shown he can make plays in the offensive backfield and is worthy of the draft pick.
In three seasons for the Seminoles, Burns had 38.5 tackles for loss, including 23 sacks. Over half of those sacks (13.5) came against ACC opponents, so he didn’t struggle against top talent, including three more against the in-state rival Florida Gators. This should get Panthers fans as excited as general manager Marty Hurney.
Worst-case scenario for defensive end Brian Burns for me is it takes a year or two before he reaches his potential in Charlotte, North Carolina, but will still eventually be an extremely productive player. And being selected in the middle of the first round in this draft class gives him time before he has to produce, unlike if he had gone in the top-five and would have needed to make plays immediately.